University enhances skills training for PhD students

A new approach to training for PhD students which has been pioneered by physicists at the Cockcroft Institute is being adopted by other areas of the University.

The training is provided as a three day course in the first year of Postgraduate Research (PGR) studies. Key requirements include the development of communication, networking and research management skills. This is followed by a choice of career development opportunities in either a research student’s second or third year.

The development of complementary skills is regarded as an important component of Postgraduate Research development and is a standing item at the University’s annual Learning & Teaching conference.

The new approach was developed as a collaboration between the EU-funded DITANET project (Diagnostic Techniques in Particle Accelerators) at the Cockcroft Institute and the Graduate School who worked together to produce a specific First Year Development Workshop for the School of Physics.


Professor Carsten P Welsch

Professor Carsten P. Welsch, who co-ordinates the DITANET project, said: “This programme is hugely valuable being subject-specific and tailored to the needs of these researchers. The format has been adopted as the basis for similar postgraduate researcher courses and I am delighted to say that it is being considered at other UK universities. We’re now taking the complementary training further to improve researchers’ employability and career skills.”

Subject-specific advanced skills training was recently held at the University for 20 international researchers in Physics with a focus on employability. The two-day course addressed final year PhD students and early stage post-docs and included training in CV writing and interview techniques. It also placed emphasis on the use of social networks and the importance of international networking and communication.

Project management in an international environment was also a focus and gave the participants an insight into budget planning and management, definition of milestones and deliverables and assessing project progress. An insight into the challenges and changes in the international job market, and a presentation on grant writing opportunities completed the school program.

Dr Richard Hinchcliffe, Director of PGR development at the University, said, “We continually strive to improve our training – courses which are tailored to the needs of individual departments will ensure that Liverpool graduates continue to stand out to employers in a competitive job market.”

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